Friday, May 06, 2016

Friday Shorts: Trump wins it all edition

At last... cyclists I can keep up with!

CHINA'S SOFT POWER IN THE MEDIA: Reuters turned out two pieces on incoming President Tsai Ing-wen's policies and Beijing's responses to them. At least this piece By J.R. Wu does cite some people from the pro-democracy, pro-independence side, but the framing is entirely pro-Beijing. Meanwhile Ben Blanchard churns out a stenographic exercise in which Beijing gets to speak and the pro-democracy, pro-independence -- and let's not forget, pro-US -- side is silenced. The familiar formulae are all there -- Beijing "distrusts" Tsai (in the way that Hitler "distrusted" Benes) -- how does Tsai or Taiwan feel about Beijing? We'll never know... I do know, though, that history is not going to be kind to such media presentations...

I don't even know why Reuters bothers to write such pieces -- Beijing has Xinhua, it does not need Reuters.

The J. R. Wu piece is more interesting, for it quotes independence elder Koo Kwang-ming who nails Beijing:
"China's attitude on opposing independence is out of touch with the real situation," said independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming. "They really have no way (how to deal) with Taiwan, so they take what has been stated in the past and repeat, repeat and repeat it."
Beijing isn't "tightening the screws". It is floundering for a policy (remember this?). It knows, even if the foreign media doesn't, that it has to interact with Taiwan if it wants to annex it without war. Each time it reduces interactions with Taiwan, it reduces its chance of peaceful annexation correspondingly. Hence it is repeating what it has always done, because that is all it knows.

The piece affords an excellent example of Beijing's soft power hard at work. First, we get the propaganda line from President Xi's own lips:
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in March China would never allow the historical tragedy of Taiwan being split from the rest of the country to happen again.
This is pure propaganda: Taiwan was never "split from China" because it was never owned by China. It was merely a colony of the Qing Empire, which also owned China. Arguing that Taiwan split from China is like arguing that Kenya split from India because they were both part of the British Empire.

This reconstruction of the Qing as China and the Manchus as Chinese is purely twentieth century propaganda, a component of the nationalist themes of "century of humiliation" meant to channel Chinese nationalism outward towards foreign expansion rather than inward towards the CCP.

But lo! Despite the fact that the New Qing Studies have been a field in Sinology for two decades, much debated and discussed (it has even been officially attacked by Beijing), none of their critiques of imperial history and terminology as a mask for expansionism and imperialism has reached the international media. Instead, we get Reuters reiterating Xi's propaganda construction of the Qing as a Chinese dynasty as if it were actual history and as if no other way to think about the issues existed.
Japan ruled Taiwan as a colony for about five decades until the end of World War Two. China's last dynasty, the Qing, had ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895 after losing the first Sino-Japanese war.
This adoption of Chinese constructions of Chinese history is China's soft power at work, so routine nobody even notices it. Hiding in plain sight.

Meanwhile, back at the farm...

SOME STUFF: I am not making this up: the criminal investigation bureau held a press conference to announce important findings: the three star signs most likely to be fraud victims. There's stupid, and then there's stupid on a government budget. Solidarity pointed out on Twitter that the three most affected star signs are all fall signs, likely indicating the popularity of timing children for the school schedule. Do'h. His post: here.

But in real science, there's a meteor shower this weekend...

The DPP takes a page from the KMT, and does its own diplomacy with a foreign power: the brother of Japanese PM Abe visits Tsai to help ease the tensions caused by Ma Ying-jeou's deliberately exaggerated reaction to the arrest of a Taiwanese fishing boat in a Japanese-claimed EEZ.

Josh Ellis, who takes marvelous photos, on the Miaoli County tourist trap, Shenghsing Station. Drew Kerslake's excellent old post on it from 2010. For an extra dose of way cool, there's a crowdsourced map of Japanese-era relics on Google Maps.

Taiwan bans Chinese singer for visa violations. Good.

Speaking of which, Drew Kerslake, who has been on a roll lately, has another great post on the decline of cycling in Taiwan. Lots of information in small entry. He compiles some links here.

Taiwan Law blog also responds to the Clarissa Wei story about the destruction of high mountain tea plantations.

Love Boat Taiwan: a documentary about a famous summer camp for Taiwanese-Americans is looking for funding.

Bob Sutter interviewed in the Diplomat on X-strait, US presidential candidates

It's 2016 and the US State Department is still talking as if it is 2003.

Apple Daily (Chinese): a used police scooter makes the news when it winds up being driven by ISIS.

TRUMP: And so Trump has locked up the Republican nomination, barring a revolt at the convention. Given the overwhelming electoral college advantage the Dems have over Trump, I don't see him winning. Get back to me in October if 100 electoral votes switch sides -- the Republicans themselves are split over him, and he lacks much appeal outside that bloc of racist, authoritarian voters who form the Republican core, which is not all that large. So I am not going to worry about what Trump means for Taiwan... yet. Although the schadenfreude dose from this will likely reduce my need for alcohol for the next few months.

And remember: the Republicans have spent decades building a party of authoritarians, as personality studies of voter blocs are showing. Trump is only the first -- having had Trump to tutor him, the next one will be smarter, smoother, more practiced, more fake... more popular.

If Clinton gets the nomination, look for Chelsea to make a Congressional run, perhaps as early as the next election cycle. She has the right pedigree and Wall Street connections, and she's worked in the corporate media. Ideal resume for an Establishment candidate.

What will Clinton mean for Taiwan? I expect Clinton is going to start out looking like Obama, but then veer toward Bush II in the early years of the first administration, before the idiocy that was Iraq, as China's belligerence discredits even its smoothest supporters in Washington...
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Brian Castle said...

"the Republicans themselves are split over him, and he lacks much appeal outside that bloc of racist, authoritarian voters who form the Republican core"
You know a lot more about Taiwanese politics than American politics. If the Republican core is so racist, why is it that it's the Democrats who focus so much on race? The constant accusations of racism that come from the left seem to indicate a fear that they can't win if we leave behind the name-calling and focus on ideas.

As for Trumps appeal, he is a liberal by American standards. As Krauthammer wrote:
"Trump has expressed sympathy for a single-payer system of socialized medicine, far to the left of Obamacare. Trump lists health care as one of the federal government’s three main responsibilities (after national security); Republicans adamantly oppose federal intervention in health care. He also lists education, which Republicans believe should instead be left to the states. As for Planned Parenthood, the very same conservatives who railed against the Republican establishment for failing to defund it now rally around a candidate who sings the praises of its good works (save for the provision of abortion). More fundamentally, Trump has no affinity whatsoever for the central thrust of modern conservatism — a return to less and smaller government." Krauthammer points out that Trump is "A man who until yesterday was himself a liberal. Who donated money to those very same Democrats to whom the GOP establishment is said to have caved, including Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and Hillary Clinton."

According to the Washington Post,"In Trump's 200 book "The America We Deserve," he wrote that he "generally" opposed gun control but supported an assault weapons ban and a longer waiting period to purchase a firearm." and "In an interview with Larry King in 1999, Trump said he was "very liberal when it comes to health care" and that he believes in "universal healthcare.""

According to The Guardian, Trump said he would “open up our libel laws so when [newspapers] write purposely negative stories … we can sue them and make lots of money”. This makes him a good fit with other liberals like Harry Reid and a bunch of Democratic senators who voted to weaken the first amendment's free speech guarantees.

According to The Atlantic, Trump blames Israel for the lack of peace in the middle east - a position far more in line with liberals than conservatives.

Brian Castle said...

If Trump, who has so little in common with conservatives, can get so many votes in the Republican party, imagine what he can do when he starts trying to appeal to Democrats with whom he naturally has far more in common. Then there is the problem of Hillary's general unlikeableness. I'm not saying anything about her qualifications or ability to be president, I'm commenting on her ability to get elected which unfortunately is unrelated to the ability to serve as president (Obama beat Romney after all). She reminds you of the frumpy aunt at family gatherings who criticised other people's children for being rowdy and having fun. She reminds you of the PTA president who gives long speeches when you just want to watch your kids' show. She was supposed to walk away with the nomination easily this years just like she was supposed to do 8 years ago. But the more she campaigns, the less people like her. She likely would have lost to any other Republican nominee and she may yet lose even to Trump. Either way we get a liberal president who cares little about our freedom. My biggest reason for favoring Hillary is that with her inability to connect with the public she likely won't be as successful at getting things done as Obama has been or Trump would be. That and she may be less dangerous on foreign policy, assuming her screw-ups as Secretary of State were not her own fault but the result of following the boss's orders.

Anonymous said...

The most charismatic candidate always wins, and Clinton is about as appealing as a buzzing strip of flypaper in a cake shop. Hence, for better or worse, Trump will win.

Matt Stone said...

Michael, more grist for the mill here, in case you missed it.

A soft PR piece for the National Palace Museum that appeared in today's Sydney Morning Herald. It cautiously tip-toes around the 'two Chinas' situation, of which I think most Australians have very little awareness.

Michael Turton said...

The constant accusations of racism that come from the left seem to indicate a fear that they can't win if we leave behind the name-calling and focus on ideas

No, it simply points to the wreck that Nixon's southern strategy made of the Republican party Trump is the demon summoned from the authoritarian, right-wing Christian, racist, white-majority hell that Nixon created. There's much research on this, summaries are all over the web. Here's one.

Get used to it. The next one after Trump will be much more dangerous.

Unfortunately Nixon's appeal to the tribal white identity has left your party without ideas. Why did Trump win so handily? Your party has no ideas with which to oppose him, except more the same God, guns, and no taxes on the rich.

Good luck with that.

TaiwanJunkie said...

All you have to look at is what happened to the Asian Americans.

Asian Americans were natural Republicans, valuing hard work, the American Dream, and self reliance. In the 80's every Asian American I knew were Republican, I even registered as a Republican! (except the 3rd and 4th gen Japanese and Cantonese, I guess they knew the true face of the GOP). Statistics also indicated we were majority Republican.

By 2012, Asian Americans are now majority democrats and went overwhelmingly to Obama.

Why did the Asian Americans leave the GOP?

Because as my church going conservative life time Republican friend admitted, "we doubled down on CRAZY" his words, not mine.

B.BarNavi said...

Vote Bernie or get Trump. We warned you...

Brian Castle said...

Wait, that guy Nixon who put in price controls, created the EPA, called for universal health insurance, backed a guaranteed income for all Americans, imposed wage controls, created OSHA, instituted affirmative action racial quotas, quadrupled spending on food stamps, and set the precedent for Obama's use of the IRS to harass political opponents was a "right-wing" president? And then you call him an "authoritarian" when it is the left liberals in America today that reflect the absolutists tendencies of government to dictate both morality and economic outcomes?
Then you throw Christian and Racist together as though the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King wasn't a reverend and most of his organizing didn't occur in churches, or as though American Children weren't routinely taught the song " and yellow black and white, they are precious.."
Frankly the country you describe bears little resemblance to the one I have lived in for so many years.

Brian Castle said...

Rather than go into detail about the myth of the "Southern Strategy", I'll let you read at your leisure a short article from the New York Times and a much more in depth article from the National Review (so you can get something from both the far-liberal and far-conservative sources). There is simply too much for me to go into detail.

In any case the Southern Strategy is ancient history. In America today it is the Republican party that opposes dividing people by race. Today it is the Democratic party that demands that every student who registers for school be classified by race (just as in apartheid South Africa). Today it is the Democrats who demand that every person who seeks employment with the federal government or with a government contractor be classified by race. Today it is the the Democrats who insist that racially neutral tests be changed when the outcome doesn't fit their racially prejudiced expectations.

Brian Castle said...

As for Trump's racism, most of what I've heard has been is comments about Mexicans (not a race) and Muslims (not a race). I may not have heard everything though since early on I stoppped caring much what Trump said because I disliked him enough for it not to change my vote.

But on the question of Mexicans and illegal immigration in general, how would you feel if the KMT were making it trivial for Chinese illegal immigrants to settle in Taiwan and eventually become voters or to simply vote illegally, making it nearly impossible for the DPP to win national elections? I'm sure you would not be too happy. And I've heard plenty of Taiwanese people criticize the behavior of Chinese visitors - if they were immigrating illegally in large numbers I'm sure those criticisms would intensify.

How are concerns about illegal immigration from Mexico and South America any different? If you say it is because they are a different race, then I would say it is you who have the problem because you are focusing on an artificial difference.

Michael Turton said...

Brian, I ain't arguing with you, because the public has already decided. The racism of your party is obvious and deep and not easily eradicated. That's why you've lost the Asian-American, Hispanic, and African-American votes. That's why you've lost the liberal Christian vote, and the vote of liberal secular types like myself. We all know what the Republican party stands for.

I don't know how the Republican Party will ever emerge from its squalor. It retains the House only via voter suppression and gerrymandering, but eventually that will be beaten too. Next election, you'll find yourself gifted with a much smoother and more intelligent version of Trump too.

I wish you well in your quest to find reality, but your description of the NYTimes, a center-right Establishment house paper, as "far-liberal" is indicative of how far you've drifted from it.


Grant said...

NYT "Far Liberal?" LOL

If you saw the stuff they threw at Bernie, you would have thought they were a conservative paper.

Anonymous said...

No, you'd have thought they were working for Clinton. Which they obviously are.

Brian Castle said...

TaiwanJunkie has a friend who used to be a Republican but has changed his mind. Michael says "Brian, I ain't arguing with you, because the public has already decided." Both answers have not a quark of evidence beyond someone else's simple ad hominem assertions.
Then Michael says the racism of my party is deep and not easily eradicated, despite the claim that the Democrats somehow easily eradicated their 150 year old deep racist traditions easily and despite racist policies that the Democrats continue to promote and enact.
Michael, it is you who are believing a fantasy. I don't blame you though. You are living far away and likely get your news about America from the Reuters, AP, CNN, and the BBC. If those were my only news sources I too would believe that Republicans are the racist redneck sister-marrying roadkill-eating slack-jawed gay-hating bear-bellied white folk of your racist caricatures. But I'm a republican and I'm none of those things. Many of my friends are Republicans and are none of those things. The articles I read by republicans betray none of those things. Your stereotypes are every bit as wrong and demeaning as those that Democrats held of blacks and Jews for so many decades. Grow up.

Brian Castle said...

Perhaps my previous post seemed a little intense. Let me make a comparison. I remember seeing a movie where a black man was being harassed by some white asshole. He make some comments about the black guy, and I don't remember exactly what, but when the black guy objected the white guy said, "Don't blame me, God made you black." When I saw that it burnt deep anger in my heart.

When you call conservatives "racist" without any reason are making an ad hominem attack meant to dehumanize your opponent just as the racist asshole was dehumanize the black man. And when your your response is "Brian, I ain't arguing with you, because the public has already decided" it is equivalent to telling me not to blame you because (as you're an atheist) "the people" have decided and thus it matters not a whit what the truth may be. It brings out the same rage against unfair dehumanization perpetuated by naked appeals to might. Why bother appealing to reason when you have the sword? It's bullying pure and simple. And if I hate anyone it is bullies.

Michael Turton said...

As I said, I'm done.

Anonymous said...

and he lacks much appeal outside that bloc of racist, authoritarian voters who form the Republican core, which is not all that large.

Seriously MT? You are way out of touch with reality.

Michael Turton said...

Seriously MT? You are way out of touch with reality.

When you become the party of white authoritarians, who do you think your core is composed of? That's what Trump appeals to.

Ideological denial is strong. Go here:

The Republican voter base is a toxic white authoritarian stew. How you guys will clean that up, I have no idea. I wish you luck. Fortunately there's a large segment of the Republican voter base that has other values, and may not vote Trump.

les said...

"The three star signs most likely to be fraud victims. There's stupid, and then there's stupid on a government budget. Solidarity pointed out on Twitter that the three most affected star signs are all fall signs, likely indicating the popularity of timing children for the school schedule."

Maybe this is more effective than you think. I see a strong correlation between poor reasoning skills and superstition. Perhaps pitching the message in a way that chimes with those most vulnerable is actually quite smart and more likely to succeed than appeals to reason.

Michael Turton said...

As I said